Hofstra’s green initiative falls short for many
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Amid questions regarding recycling processes, Hofstra’s Sustainability Officer Terry Greis addressed concerns many community members have aired. She said Hofstra recycles plastic bottles, metal cans and paper. Anything else thrown in the recycling bins – glass bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic clamshell food containers and Starbucks cups – ultimately end up in the same trash, according to Greis.
Hofstra’s recycling vendor, Westbury Paper Stock, contracted through Jamaica Ash, picks up the plastic and can recycling collected from dorms and dining facilities and sorts out plastic bottles and metal cans.
Greis said that years ago, this information was advertised on Hofstra’s trash bins. When a new law required any trash burned for energy be taken directly to the power plant without sorting out certain materials, Hofstra’s recycling program changed. Greis also said some staff members believe the old program is still in effect, but it is not.
Tiyanna Forrest, a junior history and education major, said she was shocked when she found out what actually gets recycled. “I don’t think a lot of us are informed about that,” she said. “Things like that should maybe be on flyers. I always get emails about harassment and the bullying policy. I don’t really get too many emails about recycling.”
Alanna Taub, a senior television major, was upset to discover that glass is not recycled at Hofstra; she thought she was doing the right thing by buying glass bottles.
Hofstra is not alone in its selective recycling; Newsday reports that since China stopped importing recyclables from the United States, thousands of pounds more of recyclables collected on Long Island are heading to landfills. Until recently, China was the world’s largest importer of recycled cardboard and plastics.
Taub said that lowering our waste is important because, “It’s our world and we should be taking better care of it.” Taub frequently uses the plates in the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, rather than the to-go boxes. “I try to use them as often as I can ... At least once a day, for at least one of my meals, I try to get it on a plate,” she said.
Taub also said she thinks many students don’t realize you can ask for a plate. Inside the Student Center, Campus Dining has a “plate first” policy that allows students to pick up a plate next to a self-serve station or ask for one at every dining station except the Grill’d, Fish Market and Deli stations.
On the kiosk, when ordering from The Egg Shoppe, the machine will ask whoever is ordering whether or not they want their order to go, in which case the meal is served on a plate.
Campus Dining’s Resident District Manager Bruce Bechtie and District Marketing Director Lisa Ospitale point to a number of initiatives Campus Dining has taken on in order to be more environmentally conscious.
They said that Campus Dining has moved away from using plastic straws, especially at Starbucks. Ospitale said that “all of our containers are biodegradable” and both pointed out that the plastic containers are recyclable. Those recyclable containers are, however, not recyclable at Hofstra. Starbucks’ “strawless” lids are also recyclable – just not at Hofstra.
Westbury Paper also collects mixed paper and cardboard recycling from the school, according to Greis. The staff recycles cardboard in the campus kitchens and the plant building. Students and faculty do not currently have access to cardboard recycling on campus. Faculty members have mixed paper recycling bins by their desks and students can deposit paper recycling in two large blue bins in the Student Center and in bins in academic buildings.
According to Greis, paper cannot be collected in the dorms due to local fire codes prohibiting it.
Sky Dellasala, a junior film major, expressed doubt that recycling is always kept separate from trash. “I don’t want to say it’s necessarily their fault,” Dellasala said. “But what are you going to do when people stop putting things in the right bin?”
According to Greis, between the recycling of bottles and cans and the mixed paper recycling, Hofstra collected 213 tons in 2018. However, that number includes any materials that were incorrectly put in recycling bins.
There are also opportunities on campus to recycle material students may not typically think of. Outside of the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, there is a green receptacle where students and staff can deposit batteries, inkjet cartridges and multimedia (electronic waste like cell-phones and computer hard drives which contain precious metals) to be recycled.
Students can recycle their clothing and materials like rugs, back packs and sheets by donating them to Big Brothers Big Sisters Long Island (BBBSLI) in two large bins on campus. One bin is located by the Student Center bus stop and the other is at the David S. Mack Arena.
During move-out week, more BBBSLI receptacles are brought onto campus as part of Hofstra’s “Green Move Out” initiative.
“I believe climate change is real and it does affect the environment. And as time goes on it’s important to deal with it. We have to minimize what we can throw away and not think about,” Greis said.